Former pro wrestler Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, who earlier this month was found not competent to stand trial in the 1983 death of his girlfriend, has died at his son-in-law's home in Florida. He was 73.
Attorney Robert Kirwan II said Snuka was taken Sunday to the home near Pompano Beach so that he could spend his last moments there. The family informed him shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday to say he had died, Kirwan said.
Lehigh County Judge Kelly Banach on Jan. 3 dismissed the murder case against the retired WWE star after the defense said he had dementia, was in hospice care in Florida and had six months to live.
Snuka's daughter, Tamina Snuka, also a WWE wrestler, tweeted Sunday afternoon: "I LOVE YOU DAD" with a hashtag #RestWell.
The news was first widely shared on Twitter by former wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
"Our family @TaminaSnuka asked me to share the sad news that her dad Jimmy Snuka has just passed away. Alofa atu i le aiga atoa. #RIPSuperfly," Johnson wrote.
World Wrestling Entertainment confirmed the news on their website Sunday.
"Snuka is regarded by many as the pioneer of high-flying offense because of his Superfly Splash from the top turnbuckle," the company wrote. "His dive off the top of the steel cage onto Don Muraco at Madison Square Garden as hundreds of flash bulbs went off will forever live as one of the most memorable moments in WWE history.
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WWE extends its condolences to Snuka’s family, friends."
Snuka was charged in September 2015 in the death of 23-year-old Nancy Argentino, whose body was found in their Whitehall Township hotel room in 1983. Authorities reopened the investigation after The Morning Call newspaper raised questions about the case in 2013. Prosecutors alleged she was beaten, while Snuka maintained that she died from a fall.
Authorities reopened the investigation after The Morning Call newspaper raised questions about the case in 2013.
Banach had first ruled last summer that Snuka was not competent to stand trial after his attorney argued the ex-athlete suffers from dementia, partly due to the head trauma sustained over a long career in the ring. Prosecutors countered that Snuka's brain shows normal signs of aging and suggested he might be feigning symptoms.
At a hearing last month to re-evaluate Snuka's mental fitness, Snuka's wife told the judge that the family struggles to keep him from leaving home during bouts of psychosis in which he thinks he's late for a wrestling match. Banach then took time to review Snuka's medical records before ruling.
Kirwan said Snuka died "due to complications from his ongoing medical problems."
"The family is simply heartbroken. It's been a long journey," he said. "They are grateful to the judge for dismissing the charges against him."
Snuka wrote about Argentino's death in his 2012 autobiography, maintaining his innocence and saying the episode had ruined his life.
"Many terrible things have been written about me hurting Nancy and being responsible for her death, but they are not true," he wrote. "This has been very hard on me and very hard on my family. To this day, I get nasty notes and threats. It hurts. I never hit Nancy or threatened her."
Kirwan said that he believes his client's name will eventually be cleared.
Snuka, a native of Fiji who previously lived in Camden County, New Jersey, was known on the wrestling circuit for diving from the ropes and even the top of steel cages in a career that spanned decades. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996.